Musical wows with topical narrative

‘Urinetown’ ran from Oct. 26 through Nov. 4., and was directed by Shelby Hibbs. Photo courtesy of UTD Theatre Department.

Urinetown was a well-produced, topical musical with serious commentary on the current state of the political world that remained light-hearted with well-placed comedic relief.

The musical is about a post-apocalyptic world suffering from a massive drought that causes worldwide water shortages. As a result, a corrupt company forces people to pay to urinate. This, of course, results in problems for poor people who do not have enough money to use the toilet, and are forbidden by law to relieve themselves outside of any bathrooms.

While the premise of the musical seems comedic and silly, this show is anything but that at the core. Instead, it is a serious story about an attempted revolution of the socioeconomic lower class against the oppression of the upper class, with humorous elements strewn in throughout the performance.

The musical was a comedic success, as it had the audience roaring with laughter at many of its jokes, and there were a lot of small touches included that added some light comedy throughout even some of the tenser scenes. Despite the silliness of some of the jokes, all the performers remained calm and never broke character.

The play wouldn’t have been enjoyable without a good cast of performers, and this team was successful. The singing and dancing were phenomenal throughout the play, depicting that everything was clearly well-rehearsed. Even the performers who didn’t have a lot of lines put incredible effort into their acting and never broke character, making the musical much more immersive.

Act 1 of the play was exemplary, and the singing in the finale was phenomenal. While I admittedly didn’t understand what the performers were saying, their voices blended together well and the background actors helped me understand what was happening. The main love interests were singing together, and the conflict between the village people and the company officials was unfolding in the background. Just like in the rest of the play, the funny conflict between the two groups gave some levity to the serious conflict between the love interests.

Unfortunately, while the second act of the play was good, it wasn’t as good as the first, and I found myself checking my watch to see how much longer it was going to last. The personalities of the poor people seemed to have changed drastically compared to the first act, and there wasn’t really a clear reason for this change. However, that is just a gripe with the plot of the musical —the performers did a really great job of portraying their characters throughout.

Overall, the play was very enjoyable and provided a unique lens that tried to show a world in which the rich leech off the poor to remain rich, resulting in a lot of strong social commentary. The singing, dancing and acting were fantastic throughout the musical, and the performers remained focused and in-character, creating a captivating story that I could enjoy thoroughly.

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